It’s an unfortunate fact that sometimes, life’s just not fair. From accidents to breakups to misunderstandings to job losses and even death… bad things do happen to good people. So what do you do when you’re faced with a situation you didn’t see coming – and didn’t ask for?
Maybe it’s something that throws you off-course in a way you couldn’t have predicted, and brings into question everything you believe? The trick to surviving life’s injustices – great and small – isn’t in avoiding them. Rather, it lies in how you react once they’ve happened! Here’s a 4-step approach for dealing with those situations in which life simply isn’t fair…
Sometimes in the case of an accident or incident it’s worthwhile to write down what you remember immediately – for a multitude of reasons. Trying to actually get some perspective on why it happened or what you can take from it is going to take some time. That’s because it’s nearly impossible to see things clearly in the immediate aftermath of something negative or surprising. Our heads are too clouded by anger, hurt, sadness or shock for a reasoned, introspective reaction.
So instead of stewing on the details in an attempt to unravel what seems like an unsolvable mystery, allow yourself some breathing room. Step away from what’s happened for an hour or a day or a week before attempting to take stock. You’re not losing your advantage or your chance to affect the situation by giving yourself a moment or 10 – you’re gathering your composure, and improving your chances of making the most of the mishap, or at least showing your best grace under pressure.
Now that you’ve given yourself the chance to calm down and clear your head, you can more accurately assess what went wrong. Rather than placing blame, try to look at it from all angles. Examine what you could have done differently before or after the fact, and try to determine how you will handle disappointments, hurts and other offenses in the future – not in a spirit of guilt, but rather personal growth. Don’t make it about some person or entity who “wronged” you. Make it about the behavior you encountered, and what it has to teach you about yourself.
By taking whatever lesson there is to be found in the situation, you make sure your pain wasn’t wasted. Whether what you learn is profoundly connected to patterns you’ve allowed to exist in your relationships, or as simple as the realization that we all need to experience the lows in order to appreciate the highs, you’ll want to take note of it.
Next, set forth the intention to grow from this experience by making a plan to address any areas you want to change, and decide how you intend to change them. Set goals for yourself, and ensure you will always know you’ve done what you could. For example, determine that you will stay calm under pressure, and take people’s words at face value. Decide that you will hold up your end of the bargain, regardless of what someone else does.
Once you’ve looked at the curveball that’s been thrown your way, taken responsibility for any part you might have had in it, and arm yourself with a plan for combating similar instances in the future. It’s important that you express your feelings about the situation. Whether you feel that what happened was unfair, unforeseeable, preventable, cruel or simply something you wish never occurred, getting your thoughts and emotions off your chest will go a long way toward helping you heal. Even if your words fall on deaf ears, you will be able to rest assured that you made yourself clear. Eventually, that will help you to move forward.
On that note, don’t fall victim to the desire to change someone’s mind – or their heart – by repeating yourself over and over again. Speaking your mind once, clearly, is enough to get your point across. Addressing an injustice more than that could indicate that you’re trying to change the outcome rather than trying to clear the air and move on… which might keep you stuck in the same emotional space even longer.
Finally, with the lesson of the mishap learned and your feelings expressed, it’s important that you let go of the negative emotions and move on. It may be a little at a time in the case of major life changes, but you can do it.
Continue to remember the plan of action you set, and take positive steps every day toward achieving the goals you’ve laid out. That’s not to say negative situations will not arise in the future, but the more firmly grounded you are in your truths, the easier it will be to move through an unforeseen occurrence the next time around.
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